Upgrading Analog to IP: What Cable Do You Choose?

Dan Dunar by Dan Dunar | 07.29.2013


As video surveillance rapidly transitions from analog to IP, a terrific opportunity arises to upgrade your current customers’ outdated analog video systems. So what’s stopping you? Unfortunately, it might be the cable. Analog systems typically employ coax cable while IP systems generally use category cable. Although the most reliable option for an IP upgrade is a complete rewire, doing so may prove too costly and labor intensive. When this is the case, there are other options that let you reuse some of the existing wiring. Unless you absolutely have to though, it’s best to avoid this Band-Aid approach and instead use the cables designed for the job.

Many camera manufacturers specify Cat 5e as the minimum cable requirement, but opting for Cat 6 offers several advantages. The most significant difference between Cat5e and Cat6 with respect to PoE is improved power transmission. Cat6 has larger conductors and consequently lower DC resistance. This leads to lower voltage drop and longer power transmission distance.

Lower resistance also limits heat generation. Excessive heat buildup degrades a cable’s ability to transmit data, which can severely compromise video quality. This effect would present itself similarly to the way a scratched DVD ruins a movie. One may see artifacts, skipped frames, or even a complete suspension of audio/video. The big difference, of course, is that DVD movies usually don’t have security or lives at stake. That is, unless you’re having a Star Wars vs. The Lord of the Rings debate with a diehard fan. That could get ugly.

When you upgrade an analog video system to an IP system, how do you address the cabling?